The whole world is in shock with the COVID-19 pandemic. It forced countries to impose the near-complete lockdown for reducing human interactions. This measure brought the world tourism industry at a standstill.
The economic impact of COVID-19 on the world tourism industry is gigantic. According to the World Tourism Organization, there is a drop of 56% in international tourist arrivals between January and May, which was a fall of 300 million tourists and a loss of $320 billion in tourism receipts.
This data made clear how important it was to restart tourism. But at this time, mass tourism could impose huge risks. Therefore, we propose the development of alternative tourism to tackle COVID-19.
Why not mass tourism?
Mass tourism is the most famous form of tourism in the world. It It is said to be invented by Thomas Cook in the late 1800s.
Mass tourism refers to the movement of a large number of tourists to popular destinations for recreational purposes. It is a phenomenon that is characterized by budget-friendly package tours, cheap flights, all-inclusive resorts, and cruises.
Why not Mass tourism?
The COVID-19 pandemic has created a fear in the minds of tourists regarding mass tourism. As mass tourism could impose health risks, and travelers will be vulnerable to health hazards.
Therefore, the development of alternative tourism to tackle covid-19 is the only solution that could bring the world tourism industry back on track.
What is alternative tourism?
Alternative tourism is not an old concept. It has been there in the tourism world for about two decades now.
It involves travel that is personal, authentic, and promotes interaction with the regional environment, people, and communities rather than sightseeing.
Alternative tourism generally involves traveling at minimum costs. It takes the tourists away from their comfort zones and gives them an unusual experience that is close to nature, culture, history, and the religion of the country.
The contribution of alternative tourism to the economic development of a particular region is little; however, its socio-cultural impact on the host population is more significant as the tourists bring along foreign ideas and fashion.
Alternative tourism – an undoubted choice over mass tourism
Admit this pandemic alternative tourism is an undoubted choice over mass tourism because;
- The whole idea of alternative tourism focuses on the concept of taking care of the society, economy, as well as the environment. Also, it minimizes the negative impacts created by mass tourism;
- After being cooped up for weeks in lockdown, more people are feeling the itch to get into nature. So their future travels will focus more on escaping the crowded cities and getting into the great outdoors;
- Travelers would prefer to travel to destinations with the least number of COVID 19 cases and give priority to their health and safety;
- Travelers will avoid famous tourist destinations, which are usually full of tourists and would like to visit unexplored destinations, to avoid the risk of coronavirus;
- 47% of travel experts say that there will be a shift in travelers’ interest towards the lesser-known destinations for rejuvenating at peace;
- Now people want to explore untouched and hidden gems of the world;
- COVID-19 has also damaged the mental health of people, so this restart of tourism will see people turning to nature to find a sense of peace. Also, studies show that direct contact with nature reduces stress, anxiety, and depression;
- COVID-19 also has an economic impact on our society, so people might have the desire to do something to solve this issue, so they can do it by preferring locals in their travel choices;
- Alternative tourism benefits local communities through employment, business opportunities, social projects, and also contribute to national economies.
Alternative tourism – A new tourism model
The pandemic poses an opportunity to think of a new tourism model, as the previous model led to many landscape alterations, exhaustion of the natural environment, and loss of culture and tradition.
The policymakers should encourage industry, tourists, and other stakeholders to act on alternative tourism, which could facilitate a more sustainable model of tourism.
Alternative tourism is a much broader concept that includes the social, cultural, economic, and physical aspects of a destination and not just the environment.
And this is the change that the new tourism model must-have. So all stakeholders must work together in the direction of the development of alternative tourism to tackle covid-19.
Forms of alternative tourism
Some of the forms of alternative tourism are:
This form of alternative tourism includes activities like hiking, trekking, biking, rafting, climbing, horseback riding, and adventure tourism.
Explore and encounter travel
This form of tourism is related to historical places, archeological sites, rural tourism, wine, traditional cuisine, traditional music, wellness tourism, domestic tourism, rural tourism, agro-tourism, and ecotourism.
This style includes tourism programs connected with voluntary service overseas, aid and assistance, international work camps, justice, religion, and solidarity tourism.
Emerging alternative tourism products
Below given are few emerging alternative tourism products admit COVID-19 pandemic:
Wellness tourism involves people traveling to destinations for relaxation, meditation, holistic therapies, and spa and wellness treatments, with a desire to enhance their wellbeing.
Agrotourism links agricultural production with tourism to attract visitors onto a farm, ranch for entertaining and educating the visitors and generating income for the farm, ranch, or business owner.
Rural tourism refers to all tourism activities in a rural area. It involves the movement of people from their residence to rural areas for the sole purpose of leisure and pleasure.
Farm tourism is the business of attracting visitors to farm areas generally for educational and recreational purposes while encouraging economic activities that can provide both the farm and community additional income.
Wildlife tourism mostly encompasses non-consumptive interactions with wildlife, such as observing and photographing animals in their natural habitats. It also includes viewing and interacting with captive animals in zoos or wildlife parks, and can also include animal-riding.
Forest tourism involves traveling around the forest arena and observing and interacting with local plant and animal life in their natural habitats.
Ecotourism contributes to the protection of the environment or at least minimize damage to it. It often involves travel to areas of natural interest in developing countries or participation in environmental projects.
In domestic tourism, people travel outside their domicile to other areas within the country as contrasted with traveling outside the boundaries of the country as in international tourism.
So, these are few alternative tourism products that will pop up in this pandemic because COVID-19 has affected the mental health of people. They are looking for different ways of rejuvenating to get away from the stress and haunting experience of their lives.
They want to get in touch with nature, adventure, and learn useful skills. And the above-mentioned alternative tourism products fit in all these categories. As a result, there will be an increase in their demand among the tourists shortly.
As mentioned earlier, it is not possible to resume mass tourism right now. So to save the world tourism industry from drowning, the development of alternative tourism seems to be the right choice.
Because it protects people, the environment, and the economy while empowering the local communities. It also fulfills people’s urge of getting back to nature.
So save the planet, help the locals out, and take care of yourself and get off the beaten path. Explore the alternative side of a city or a country you never considered before. Also, let us know about the same in the comment section.